The fight to preserve Teamsters’ hard-earned pensions won a big victory when Treasury rejected the Central States proposed cuts. But the real fight to save pensions lies ahead.
With the challenges ahead in mind, 50 representatives from 22 pension protection committees active from North Dakota to North Carolina met in St Louis on July 31.
The meeting was called to bring greater focus and organization to the network of committees and activists across the south and Midwest.
“We formed a leadership and a structure to help move forward,” reported Mike Walden, the chair of the Northeast Ohio Committee to Protect Pensions. “I was made the chairman, and Sherman Liimatainen from Duluth Local 346 was elected co-chair of the new national committee. One focus we want to move on is getting greater involvement from local officers and current working Teamsters. And we need to continue working with our allies to work with Congress on finding real, fair solutions for this crisis. And we need to keep the pressure on Central States to give us a real Retiree Rep (not hand-picked by the Fund), and to come to the table with us, as well as the union, AARP, PRC, Congressional Reps and other parties. “
John Wilkinson, a retired Holland Teamster out of Michigan attended the St. Louis meeting. He has been organizing in the mid-Michigan area for over a year.
“We met recently in Marshall and I reported on plans coming out of St. Louis,” said Wilkinson. “We need to get more working Teamsters on board with this campaign. That will mean reaching out to Michigan Teamster locals but also continuing to hold our own informational meetings around the state.”
The Kansas City area has been a hot bed of activity over the past two years, holding monthly educational meetings as well as organizing regular actions that make the fight for pension security more visible.
“We know we won a big victory in May but there’s still much more to do,” said Wes Epperson, a retired UPS feeder driver in Kansas City. “We need much more out of our locals and joint councils. Officers and delegates passed a resolution at the recent IBT convention supporting our fight to defend the pensions. We need those same Teamsters to get on board with the ongoing work of our pension protection committees—help with reaching more Teamsters, with setting up meetings, with sending delegations to Congressional representatives, and support for our efforts to get media coverage on the issue.”
Pension Movement Focus
- Broaden support. More committees, more support from local unions, and more outreach to other groups, such as Teamsters in the NY Fund, other unions and organizations.
- Winning Federal Legislation that will protect pensions. We support the Keep Our Pension Promises Act, to fulfill ERISA’s goal of protecting earned pensions. We are ready to meet with all stakeholders to hammer out a solution fair to all.
Work with Allies to Find Real Solutions
“We need to continue working with our allies to work with Congress on finding real, fair solutions for this crisis. And we need to keep the pressure on Central States to give us a real Retiree Rep (not hand-picked by the Fund), and to come to the table with us, as well as the union, AARP, PRC, Congressional Reps, and other parties.”
Mike Walden*, Local 24 Retiree, Roadway
*Mike is the newly-elected chair for the Teamster Committees to Protect Pensions. He will take part in a workshop and planning meeting addressing pension issues at the TDU Convention, Sept 30 - Oct 2, in Chicago.
Work Together to Fix Pension Shortfalls
“We need to get more working Teamsters on board with this campaign. That will mean reaching out to Michigan Teamster locals but also continuing to hold our own informational meetings around the state.”
John Wilkinson, Local 164/299 Retiree, Holland
Join Me at the TDU Convention
“I’m looking forward to this year’s convention. I’ll be there as TDU honors my late husband, Butch Lewis, and all the other retired and active Teamsters who have fought so hard to protect the hard-earned pensions of thousands of Teamsters and their spouses.”
Rita Lewis, Chair, Pension Surviving Spouse Committee